- This topic has 7 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated by clive.
July 9, 2021 at 10:52 am #852StraitsBirder
As we reported recently on our social media pages but thought might be worth posting here too.
Good news for European Turtle Doves! Through great advocacy by SEO/BirdLife there is a moratorium on the hunting of European Turtle Doves in Spain – a zero quota!
Nearly all the regions have agreed to this measure set out in the European Action Plan for the species (save for Castilla y Leon and Madrid).
Turtle Dove-friendly land management is urgently required across the species range – including here in Spain – to recover this migratory Dove’s populations.
We look forward to seeing even more European Turtle Doves passing through The Straits and land managers and owners doing their utmost to provide homes for them and other species.
Hunting exacerbates the problems for these birds caused by agricultural intensification and changes, both problems need to be tackled in order to save the species.
SEO/BirdLife, welcomed the news but are urging the authorities to list the European Turtle Dove as a threatened species, preventing it from being hunted for as long as it remains threatened. This listing would also ensure a conservation recovery plan was commissioned.
July 10, 2021 at 10:24 am #853Carl
I read about this great news in the Guardian newspaper although one of the paragraphs confused me somewhat……. They say that change in land use is mostly to blame but then go on to say that 900,000 are shot each year….. ummmm with that many killed I am sure that there is plenty of food supply for those that are left…..????
Population modelling has shown that numbers in western Europe could increase by up to 5% annually if hunting was stopped, although the main cause of the species’ long-term decline is agricultural intensification reducing food availability.
Most of the Spanish regional authorities have agreed a ban on hunting the bird as it crosses the country in 2021. An estimated 900,000 are shot each year.July 10, 2021 at 11:18 am #855StraitsBirder
The research into European Turtle Dove declines shows that the brood numbers in Northern Europe in the 60s were 3-4 in a season and then from the 90s just one. This alone would largely account for the rapid decline in the species.
Also Turtle Doves did sustain hunting at a likely higher or at least similar level than more recently. The changes in agricultural wiping out food supplies are the critical aspect here but hunting a rapidly declining species will only further exacerbate the problem.
Spain hosts 1,370,000–2,285,000 pairs (c.41% of European breeding population) so clearly an important source breeding population (also the area of La Brenne in France is a great place for the species with a very high breeding / occupied territory density). These two areas are interesting as gut analysis of birds shot in Southern Spain showed a high concentration of wild plant seeds (and obviously there is an array of natural areas and important plants like fumitory grow abundantly in these areas and also in La Brenne) compared to those retrieved from more intensively farmed areas. Other parts of Spain and Europe are continually intensifying agriculture mostly to feed livestock causing this lack of food resources.
The Turtle Dove is mostly an obligate granivore (mostly consuming seeds) and requires summer seed source from once commonly occurring countryside plants. Modern herbicides and agricultural practices have wiped these species out and one of the casualties is the European Turtle Dove – along with a whole host of farmland birds and other wildlife.
Additionally the agricultural change on wintering grounds for export agriculture to Northern Europe is an issue equally wiping out naturally occurring seed sources. We gave a talk about the issues in Africa at the African Bird Club AGM in London – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVrcwAjzC7s
This lack of food in the countryside has placed the adults under increasing food stress making them more susceptible to disease. This is likely spread from non native captive bred introduced Pheasants – in fact trichomoniasis detected in swab analysis of TDs detected strains of the disease found commonly found in Pheasants! So a reduction in numbers being released is urgently needed (the levels in the UK are completely unsustainable).
There is some talk of reintroducing birds from captive stock – which to me is ludicrous because the species still exists, the problems are still in effect and the birds would not have migratory instinct therefore robbing Africa of returning European Turtle Doves! Plus any introduction should follow IUCN guidelines (regardless if the species requires licensing for reintroduction) – one of which clearly states that the problems and causes for decline must be significantly addressed before reintroduction.
Hunting is often the most emotive issue that receives a lot of attention but the fork remains one of the most powerful tools for conservation and what we eat determines how the vast majority of land is managed.
As ever the issues are multivariate the solutions however are achievable. One step closer….we hope!
July 10, 2021 at 5:09 pm #856cliveAdmin
This is excellent news at last… And, thanks StraitsBirder for clarifying the shooting/habitat/food supply issues 🙂
There is a bit of background on this issue published in El Páis in English back in 2019 when the Spanish government refused to order regions to comply with European law.. It is well worth a read..
Almost two million European turtledoves fly every year over the Iberian Peninsula on their migratory route to Sub-Saharan Africa, where they sit out the European winter after rearing their chicks. But recently, their flight across Spain has turned into a nightmare due to the total absence of measures protecting their numbers, as laid out by the European Commission in a case it recently opened against Spain.
The European Union (EU) authorities maintain that hunting is being allowed at unsustainable levels, causing the population to fall. To the indignation of ornithologists, the regional government of Galicia even allows them to be hunted in an area declared a Special Zone for the Protection of Birds (ZEPA).
Read the full article here: https://english.elpais.com/elpais/2019/08/20/inenglish/1566306468_977678.html
Take a trip on the Wildside!
https://wildsideholidays.co.uk (Wildlife and nature holidays in Spain)
https://grazalemaguide.com/ (All my web projects in one portal and everything you need to know about Grazalema)
July 10, 2021 at 5:28 pm #858Carl
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by clive.
Thanks for the links and extra info… What a fantastic place this forum is to learn about stuff!
One other thing I don’t understand is that Spain has millions and millions of hectares protected as national. natural and biosphere reserves so it just doesn’t make sense what has happened to the turtle dove or any other species in Iberia really…
Quoting from Clive’s recent entry about biospheres in Spain on his website… 12 percent of the country is protected on a level much higher than even national park (As Clive points out in the article many natural parks are within the limits of the biosphere reserve)
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently has 714 sites in 129 countries all over the world. Spain now has a total of 52 biosphere reserves, confirming its leadership as the country with the largest number of these protected spaces in the world. The Spanish Network of Biosphere Reserves now occupies more than 6 million hectares, or 12% of the national territory, in which close to 2 million people live.
Then add to that the protected areas that are NOT within a biosphere reserve!
It begs the question as to why hunting of these species been allowed in protected areas?
July 14, 2021 at 5:31 pm #861StraitsBirder
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by Carl.
Sorry Carl took me a little while to get back to you….you make some interesting points.
Of course not all the protected areas are suitable for European Turtle Doves many are mountainous or densely forested. Those that are suitable also are having a torrid time of it with encroaching agriculture, over grazing, reduced water levels (important for TDs) due to unsustainable crop irrigation, pollution, abandonment and poor management, issues of spray drift etc. For example – Doñana is a complete mess right now, much of it becoming unsuitable for many species including Turtle Doves – there is nothing sustainable, extensive or suitable for a protected area there, it is close to becoming some kind of messed up theme park!
In The Straits here there are many areas suitable for the species but there are expanding areas such as La Janda which are becoming ever more volatile for the species with a complete lack of food for them due to modern herbicides and intensive cultivation.
The species population is rapidly in decline, of up to 78%, throughout its distribution range in Europe (>93% in the UK!). The declines are especially pronounced in the European western migratory flyway of the species – so despite hunting in the Eastern med the declines in Balkan breeding populations are not as pronounced (one major difference being agriculture but changes there are now driving declines too!). Spain supports c.40% of the entire breeding population of the species in Europe and maybe 60-75% of the population use this migratory route.
At the same time there are positive trends in areas with complex and extensive farming and cultivation (small parcels, diverse coping, scrub, organic management etc) which reinforces the importance of extensive agricultural practices for this species.
If you ever get chance to visit La Brenne in France during May / June, the management of the area and its extensive agriculture is brilliant, as a result an early morning walk there is full with purring Turtle Doves ! (although intensive cropping is starting to encroach in the less forested and more open areas around the park hence why they lost Little Bustards!).
July 15, 2021 at 10:25 am #863Helen
What fantastic informative and in depth answers and information! Well done all…. Thankyou. 🙂
Breathe and try to be nice to people 🙂July 15, 2021 at 10:30 am #864cliveAdmin
The comment by StraitsBirder about Doñana is so sad
Doñana is a complete mess right now, much of it becoming unsuitable for many species including Turtle Doves – there is nothing sustainable, extensive or suitable for a protected area there, it is close to becoming some kind of messed up theme park!
Here also bad news for Doñana: https://iberianatureforum.com/forums/topic/spain-guilty-of-not-protecting-donanas-water-supply
That said it is a huge step forward that the massive hunting platform in Spain has been persuaded to at least slow down a bit with the indiscriminate hunting of migratory birds….
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